The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 technical assistance today. It added information to clarify when COVID-19 may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.
From the EEOC, we now know that:
- In some cases, an applicant’s or employee’s COVID-19 may cause impairments that are themselves disabilities under the ADA, regardless of whether the initial case of COVID-19 itself constituted an actual disability.
- An applicant or employee whose COVID-19 results in mild symptoms that resolve in a few weeks—with no other consequences—will not have an ADA disability that could make someone eligible to receive a reasonable accommodation.
- Applicants or employees with disabilities are not automatically entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA. They are entitled to a reasonable accommodation when their disability requires it, and the accommodation is not an undue hardship for the employer. But, employers can choose to do more than the ADA requires.
- An employer risks violating the ADA if it relies on myths, fears, or stereotypes about a condition and prevents an employee’s return to work once the employee is no longer infectious and, therefore, medically able to return without posing a direct threat to others.
If you have questions about how to handle COVID-19 in the workplace or how to remain compliant with federal and New York law around workplace issues, The Coppola Firm can help.